Astrology has more substance than what you can find in the entertainment section of your daily newspaper. It's history is like a road, stretching back to Babylonian times, that has since branched into as many different directions as there are human traits. In respect to it's history, we owe it to ourselves to give astrology a closer look in order to understand why it has been around for so long and what we could possibly gain from it, other than a laugh. Taking astrology seriously, instead of ridiculing it, could provide a more thorough understanding of the field and may even prove to be beneficial.
Dating back to around 1000 B.C., when things such as telescopes and the Gregorian calendar had not yet been invented, the mathematically inclined Maya civilization flourished. They were among the first to create an incredibly accurate calendar; calculating that the length of the tropical year was 365.2422 days. There's just 0.0002 days difference between their measurement and the current one! They also calculated, that the average full revolution of Venus is 584 days, whereas its actual cycle is 583.92 days (Gallenkamp, C., 1985). Needless to say, the Mayas did a lot of studying of the visible planets and kept a close eye on their behavioral and environmental changes. The Mayas could accurately predict lunar eclipses and believed that the planets not only affected our behavior, but also gave insight to the future. It was here, before mankind became overwhelmed with new discoveries, where humans established that there is a connection between ourselves and the planets. These beliefs are what set the foundation for astrology, and have been analyzed and expanded upon ever since.
Perhaps the most intriguing concept in astrology, and also a reason why it has neither been proven or disproved, is that it deals with the human psyche. We know much about the way our minds operate, but certainly not everything! Astrology has been around for so long probably because it makes an attempt to give reason to our mysterious behaviors. Like the many personality tests created to give awareness to one's own doings and reasoning, astrology attempts to point out difficulties and clear up confusions in life. Reading into only the information deriving from your Sun sign, is like answering one question from a personality test, and expecting it to interpret into something personal. It just isn't that simple. In order to get a detailed and more personal reading of the planets' affects on you, talking with a professional in the field would provide far more insight than reading "your" horoscope from your favorite magazine. Each of the planets pertain to different aspects in our lives; for example, your Venus sign is said to deal with the way you both give and receive love, as well as how you handle your finances. The many relationships we become a part of in life can be better understood by looking into the influences the planets are said to have on us. While interpretations of the planets' effects vary to some degree, the bottom line that many astrologers have attempted to prove, is that we are influenced by the planets in some way.
For quite some time we have known that the regular cycles of the Moon are what regulate the oceans' tides, but some have had doubts in relating this planets' cycles to human temperament. At the University of Miami, Dr. Arnold Lieber tested the "full Moon" theory that during this phase of the Moon there is a higher rate of violent behavior in humans, resulting in homicide. When data was collected from 1,887 murder cases from Dade County (Miami), it showed that the phase of the Moon and the number of homicides reported rose and fell together for an entire 15 year span (Townley, J. 1997). Dr. Lieber and his team of researchers decided to test it again to make sure the results weren't coincidence. Again, when the theory was tested using data from Cuyahoga County in Cleveland, OH, the results showed that the amount of murders increased as the full Moon approached, and the number decreased when it was in the first and last quarter of its cycle. While this doesn't prove that it was the Moon that lead these individuals to kill, it does show that there may be a relationship between us and the Moon. Not only have we studied erratic behavior in humans in relation to our Moon, but also in relation to the other planets, such as Mars.
A French psychologist and statistician, Michel Gauquelin, conducted an extensive study, now known as the "Mars Effect," in order to see if he could find similarities in famous French figures' birth charts, relating to their professions (Gauquelin, M., 1983). In his initial study, he gathered over 6,000 birth dates to compare. He found that the planet Mars was commonly passing through a certain sector of space at the time of birth for many sports champions; significantly more often than chance would allow. The numbers were in agreement with what astrologers have claimed for years – that when certain planets are rising over the horizon at the time of an individuals' birth, they can influence which career the person can excel at. Since 1955, when Gauquelin first published his findings, multiple studies have been conducted to disprove his data; and the ones that did, proved later to have inaccurate records of birth times. Unfortunately, no matter how many studies have presented us with evidence supporting the significance of astrology, it may be a difficult belief to respect without having an open-mind.
Changing the way you perceive astrology may be the first step in gaining an appreciation for it. To view it only in its commercialized format, is merely skimming the surface of this complex belief. I ask you to do an investigation of your own; then decide if it stands on solid ground or not.
Gallenkamp, C. (1985). Maya: The Riddle and Rediscovery of a Lost Civilization (3rd ed.). New York: Viking Penguin Inc.
Gauquelin, M. (1983). Birth-Times: A Scientific Investigation of the Secrets of Astrology. New York: Hill and Wang.
Townley, J. (1997). Dynamic Astrology: Using Planetary Cycles to Make Personal and Career Choices. Rochester, VT: Destiny Books.